12 year-old honors student Dymond Milburn was beaten by plainclothes police officers in front of her house. The officers mistook her for a prostitute (they claimed she was wearing “tight shorts”), drove up in a van, jumped out, grabbed her, telling her â€œYouâ€™re a prostitute. Youâ€™re coming with me.â€ She resisted, yelling “daddy, daddy.” One of the men covered her mouth.
The prostitution charge was dropped, but three weeks later she was arrested in front of her classmates during school, the charge being “assaulting a public servant.” Shortly after, the father was similarly charged.
From the Courthouse News Service:
Four plainclothes Galveston police officers beat a 12-year-old girl in the head in her own yard, beat her with a flashlight, accused her of being a prostitute and threatened to shoot her puppy, while responding to a call about white prostitutes, the girl’s parents claim in Federal Court. The girl, an honor student, who was dressed in gym shorts and a T-shirt when the cops beat her, is black.
The defendant officers are Justin Popovich, Sean Stewart, David Roark and Sgt. Gilbert Gomez.
[Dymond Milburn] required medical attention for head, back and throat pain, a sprained wrist, contusions and abrasions, black eyes, double vision, loss of hearing, nausea and vomiting, blood in her ear, and bled from the nose. She has since had behavioral problems, nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Radley Balko of The Agitator wrote about it, then posted again with more details. While we may be getting a one-sided story, the authorities have admitted that they did in fact attempt to arrest and restrain the 12 year-old. They were not in uniform, and were driving an unmarked van. They were on the lookout for a certain prostitute, who did not physically resemble the 12 year old in any way (different age, skin color, and physical build). The police admit this much, but they claim that first the girl then the father assaulted them, and the officers had no choice but to use force.
This is obviously absurd. The fact that the officers were even in this situation in the first place, in my opinion, should be enough to show that the officers were not in the right, and I can’t imagine a scenario where trained police officers would have to use severe physical force to defend themselves against or restrain a 12 year-old. Logically, the only way the police’s official story could have happened would be if the officers laid their hands on the girl first.
The family is suing the police officers. You can read the court filing here. The case was filed on the 22 of August, 2008, and the actual attack took place in August of 2006, according to this court document. The charges against the girl and her father went to trial once already, but the judge threw it out on the first day. The new trial will start in February.
The civil case against the police officers was filed in August of an election year, and the attack happened in a low-income neighborhood, so it’s no surprise it’s not getting much mainstream coverage. I usually like to think of these stories as the “few bad apples,” but I don’t know if I believe that anymore. Maybe we need to make some changes to how police operate, and increase the oversight and regulations on how they handle violent situations. I don’t know. I just feel like we need to do something. These types of stories just make me so angry.